Strategies by which WWOX-deficient metastatic cancer cells utilize to survive via dodging, compromising, and causing damage to WWOX-positive normal microenvironment

Pei Yi Chou, Feng Jie Lai, Yu An Chen, Yong Da Sie, Hsiang Ling Kuo, Wan Pei Su, Chia Yun Wu, Tsung Yun Liu, Kuang Yu Wen, Li Jin Hsu, Chun I. Sze, Nan Shan Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Proapoptotic tumor suppressor WWOX is upregulated in the early stage of cancer initiation, which probably provides limitation to cancer growth and progression. Later, WWOX protein is reduced to enhance cancer cell growth, migration, invasiveness and metastasis. To understand how WWOX works in controlling cancer progression, here we demonstrate that apoptotic stress mediated by ectopic WWOX stimulated cancer cells to secrete basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in order to support capillary microtubule formation. This event may occur in the cancer initiation stage. Later, when WWOX loss occurs in cancer cells, hyaluronidase production is then increased in the cancer cells to facilitate metastasis. We determined that inhibition of membrane hyaluronidase Tyr216-phosphorylated Hyal-2 by antibody suppresses cancer growth in vivo. WWOX-negative (WWOX-) cells dodged WWOX+cells in the microenvironment by migrating individually backward to avoid physical contacts and yet significantly upregulating the redox activity of WWOX+parental cells or other WWOX+cell types for causing apoptosis. Upon detecting the presence of WWOX+cells from a distance, WWOX- cells exhibit activation of MIF, Hyal-2, Eph, and Wnt pathways, which converges to MEK/ERK signaling and enables WWOX- cells to evade WWOX+cells. Inhibition of each pathway by antibody or specific chemicals enables WWOX- cells to merge with WWOX+cells. In addition, exogenous TGF-β assists WWOX- cells to migrate collectively forward and merge with WWOX+cells. Metastatic WWOX- cancer cells frequently secrete high levels of TGF-β, which conceivably assists them to merge with WWOX+cells in target organs and secure a new home base in the WWOX+microenvironment. Together, loss of WWOX allows cancer cells to develop strategies to dodge, compromise and even kill WWOX-positive cells in microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this